Hi friends! Welcome to October! Fall is my favorite season; Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Horror is my favorite genre. To celebrate the alignment of all of my favorite things, the month of October is going to be a Spook-a-thon on my blog! I have five books on my TBR that I’m planning on getting through, with so many horror books on my shelf to be picked up should I finish my list early. Let’s get into it!
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
The Silent Companions is Laura Purcell’s debut novel, set in Victorian times. When newly widowed Elsie travels to her late husband’s dying estate, it’s significantly less regal than she expected. When she discovers a wooden figure in a locked room in the attic with eyes that seem to follow her, things become significantly more…dark than she expected.
I love a good slow burn horror, and I have a great appreciation for Gothic atmosphere, and boy oh boy did this book deliver. Solid unreliable narrator, solid ambiguous ending; this book served up a fantastic atmospheric story that was exactly what I was looking for right now. And yes, it was creepy.
Wow wow. So many positives. If I were to go into detail on each one this blog post would be too long for anyone to bother reading, so I’ll try to keep it snappy. The overall atmosphere and prose in this novel are fantastic. I used to struggle with Gothic novels until the last year or so, but they always seem to be so descriptive in their settings and environments and just perfect for fall and winter. I really wished it had been raining or snowing while I read this book; it would have been perfect.
This may be a hot take, but I really enjoy ambiguous endings. Please understand that doesn’t mean that I enjoy 1) ambiguous endings for the sake of an inevitable sequel or 2) lazy writing. There’s certainly a right and a wrong way to leave an ending open. With that being said, the unreliable narrator is such a good way to do this ending; this conclusion kind of reminds me of Life of Pi or the film adaptation of The Shining in terms of its openness to interpretation. It’s definitely a book I would want to re-read because of the new possible perspective gained at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I also have found in the past that Gothic novels tend to drag slightly in terms of pace, so I was expecting this book to be hard to get through. I was pleasantly surprised. There were definitely slower moments (as there are in any book), and while the beginning especially took a little to get into, most of this novel was very evenly paced. It’s certainly a slow burn type of plot, but the dreary atmosphere and building terror do provide moments of horror throughout the plot, not just at the climax. In a similar vein, I enjoyed the switching timelines and quasi-dual perspective in this book far more than I did in my previous read, Ninth House. The time shifts were made much more clear (like having dates as chapter titles instead of seasons), and different casts of characters were present in each timeline, making the plots easier to distinguish and follow as well. While I wasn’t as invested in the present-day chapters as much as the other two, each timeline was intriguing, and I never found myself dreading a specific perspective, as I often find I do with books that employ such a storytelling frame.
Honestly? Not a whole lot of negatives here. The only reason this isn’t a five star read for me is because I didn’t love the protagonist, Elsie, or care about her all that much. Maybe that was the point. Now, I can appreciate a good unlikeable main character – I’m reading one right now that I’m loving hating – but this one just didn’t do it for me. I know that Elsie is very much a product of her time and upbringing concerning the way she treats others in the household, but it makes her a very unrelatable and unlikeable character. That slight bit of detachment I had from the plot didn’t majorly affect my enjoyment of the story, but it did result in a few more eyerolls and sighs on my part than I would have liked.
Rating & Final Thoughts
The Silent Companions is a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me, which is higher than I rated any book I read last month. What a fun way to get into the spooky season! Despite my deep dislike for the main character, the book is creepy lil blast and I would definitely recommend it to any horror fans! I think fans of Ian Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things (one of my favorite horrors ever) would really enjoy this book, although there isn’t as much of a mindfuck twist ending. Read it anyways – this is one of the good ones.
Buy The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell here.*
*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link.